Monday, April 19, 2021

10 Questions to Reflect on 2020

These ten questions, from Holley Gerth, have been a part of my new-year reflections for awhile now.  As to why I'm posting about them now, in mid-April?   I've mentioned a few times recently that I've been really slow musing on the year just past and am trying to do so before it's really too late.  (Pretty sad, isn't it?  It's already "really too late" in most people's thinking.)  Again, if you don't want to hear even one more word about 2020, feel free to skip this post.  I won't blame you one bit -- I'm just writing these posts for my own information and remembrance.  Here we go:

1.  What went well this year?

This was 2020, after all -- the year of the coronavirus, during which nothing went as expected.  And yet we were still able to accomplish a lot in spite of it.  While churches were closed, we developed a new Sunday routine which included a special, leisurely breakfast;  Sunday School and worship service online and an afternoon routinely spent with family.

We also managed to fulfill some responsibilities (selling land for my dad's trust and getting his home completely emptied).  We took a trip to national parks out West with family; did a lot toward making our little cottage livable; did two sugar fasts and a lot of walking; and took several lovely getaways here in New Hampshire, even including a couples' retreat.
From our trip to some western national and state parks in summer 2020

I was thrilled to be able to make a number of handmade gifts for birthdays and Christmas this year.  I read  over a dozen books (that's a lot for me!), kept up somewhat with my blogs, and stayed current with my Sunday School lessons and Bible study in addition to doing several Scripture writing challenges throughout the year.
From our getaway to Deering, New Hampshire in October

Cleaning and then painting the kitchen cabinets at the cottage

Kids in the rafters as we worked at renovating our little cottage

From our getaway to Pittsburg, New Hampshire in September

2.  What did not go well?

Everyday life was somewhat frustrating, with coronavirus restrictions at every turn.  Dental needs went by the wayside.  For much of the year, thrift stores were not accepting donations; transfer stations (aka town dumps) had reduced hours; hazardous waste collections and document-shredding events were canceled.  All of these factors complicated the cleaning out of my childhood home, but we were eventually able to do most of what we needed to do.  I had also thought this might be the year we would declutter our own home once and for all, and be able to get the housework on a schedule, but with all of the complications mentioned above that didn't happen.  Hopefully in 2021!  We have a good start!

3.  What do I want to do the same this year? 

 I need to sell a final piece of property for the trust.  We want to do a lot of work on our cottage and we also hope to make fasting from sugar a more regular part of our lives.  I hope to continue walking a lot.  We had planned another trip out West to see family, and have in fact already completed that trip as of April 6.
The main reason for this visit: baby Rosemary!

Family pic from the last night: local granddaughter Julia, who went with us, is at right

4.  What do I want to do differently?

I want to do more crafting and more reading.  Completely declutter the house and get the housework on a workable schedule.  Do much more blogging.  Get much more serious with my Etsy shop.  It takes time, but must be done.

5.  When did I feel most in my "sweet spot"?

Sunday School lesson preparation  and teaching; getaways with my hubby; time with family and friends; crafting, blogging, journaling, planning.
Getaway to Back Lake, Pittsburg, NH

View from a covered bridge while visiting friends in Vermont

Another from our getaway to Deering, NH

6.  When did I feel the most exhausted and drained?

Dealing with difficult people and restrictions concerning the virus; coping with difficulties resulting from political fallout.

7.  What did I say "yes" to that I wish I had said "no" to?

At first I couldn't think of anything.  But then I remembered that photo shoot my son-in-law talked me and my hubby into, at Coral Pink Sand Dunes.  I'm just not photogenic.  Enough said.  But the sand dunes, seen below, definitely are.

8.  What did I say "no" to that I wish I had said "yes" to?

I couldn't think of anything in that category.

9.  What helped me to stay close to God this year?

Having a consistent quiet time and prayer life.  Relying on Him for wisdom and strength to handle the "pandemic".

10.  What did God teach me that I want to live out in the coming year?

He reminded me that He is always in control -- that even when things look out of control, they never have been, and never will be, out of His control.  I can trust Him through everything.  I feel that He also taught me -- or maybe reminded me -- that relationships with Him, with my family and church family, and my friendships with fellow believers are incredibly important and take precedence over any government orders to the contrary.

So there you have it .. a few reflections on 2020.  I do have one more post that I'd like to write on this topic, but we will see.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Sunday Scripture


 Back in fall of 2020,  I did a study on 2 Corinthians with  Good Morning Girls.  Somehow,  I thought I had blogged about my study, but I guess that I have not.  (I did post a few thoughts on Instagram at the time, but I know that not all of my readers are on Instagram.)  So I think that for awhile, I will plan some Scripture posts for Sundays.

These will just be very, very simple posts about my study of a selected passage for each chapter of 2 Corinthians.  I'm just going to share from my journaling of each one.  I used the SOAP method of Bible study.  Bear with me on the autumnal graphics, which are also from Good Morning Girls.  If I happen to have other graphics for these verses, I will use them.  

So for 2 Corinthians chapter 1, the passage I looked at was verses 3-4.

S"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
"Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted on God."  (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

O=  In verse 3, Paul blesses God, and addresses Him by several of His names:

The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
The Father of mercies
The God of all comfort.

This is the God who comforts us in all of our tribulations.  One purpose of our suffering is so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the same comfort with which God has comforted us.

A=  It's such a blessing to be reminded that our God is such a personal God.  He is indeed the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.  He has many reasons for allowing difficulty in our lives, including spiritual growth and the development of patience.  But He comforts us in all of our tribulations!  And one purpose is so that we can reach out to others in trouble, and comfort them as God has comforted us.

P=  "Lord, I thank and praise You so much that You are the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.  These aspects of Your character bless my heart deeply.  I thank You so much for the many ways and situations in which You have comforted me.  I have felt at times even the sense of a reassuring hand on my shoulder, an assurance from You that all would be well.  I pray that You will help me to extend a comforting hand and word to those who need it most, and that You'd bring me across their paths.  In Jesus' name, Amen."

Friday, April 16, 2021

Opening up the cottage for the season


One of the kitchen windows.  The breadbox will not "live" in that particular spot; it's just handy there for now as it contains napkins for the kids to use for their cookies.

Although snow is currently falling outside my window -- a crazy spring storm that is frosting the forsythia and other seasonal blooms -- there were some beautiful days last week, and we were able to open up our little camp for the season.  Very exciting!  Here are some photos from one of those days.

Here's another shot from the same window (but there are four windows in this tiny kitchen!).  This one doesn't show the dilapidated outhouse, soon to be replaced.  It also doesn't show what I saw when I first opened the windows last Thursday:

Yes, there were sap buckets on some of those trees!  Lord willing, next spring there will be even more.  But I'd forgotten to bring the camera on Thursday, so couldn't get a photo.  Before that day was done, Mr. T and the grandkids had taken all the sap buckets down.
Another kitchen view.  The canisters at this point contain K-cups and clothespins.  I've yet to use that percolator but I think it looks so perfect there.  We bought a Keurig on a black Friday sale to use at the camp.  So convenient!  We don't even have one of those at home, but it's just right for the camp.
Out the bathroom window.  So many old stone foundations around this place!  we plan to plant bulbs and summer flowers out there.
The sleeping nook and its window.  This view looks out to the dirt road.

The old pump organ in the large room.  You can see into the center room (those curtains -- which I assumed were gray until I soaked them multiple times in Oxi-Clean -- hide the sleeping nook) and on into the kitchen where you see my hubby standing.  Love the slightly curved archway into the kitchen.  The green area above the pine paneling marks the original roof line of the little logging camp that forms the first two rooms.  We'll be keeping it green for the historical value.

The coasters above were a Christmas gift from our two  oldest granddaughters.  They selected these designs with the camp in mind!
Out a screened window: Loon Lake is in the distance.
Large screened windows with the table beneath.
Mr. T made this bookcase for my sister.  When we cleaned out the old homestead, we decided the bookcase would work well at the camp.  It's next to another of the large screened windows.
My hubby works at cutting up some fallen limbs that came down over the winter.  Arielle (below) helped by carrying the pieces to the campfire pit.  Then she turned to collecting sticks from around the yard and placing them at the fire pit as well.

Grandson Sam is just emerging from the woods between their place and ours.  There's not much sweeter than seeing them come along one of the paths through the woods or riding up the dirt road on their bikes!

Hope you've enjoyed this look at our simple little cottage as we prepare for a spring and summer of work and play over there.  Lord willing, a lot of exciting changes are coming.

Monday, April 12, 2021

End of the year book talk


Oh my!  Was it really as far back as July 2020 when I blogged about books I had read so far that year?  Obviously, it's long past time to rectify that.  Four of the books I'm mentioning here were ones I found in clearing out the homestead.  We were a family of book lovers!  As I've probably noted before in this space, there were books in every single room, including the cellar and one of the bathrooms.

August: Vet in the Vestry, by Alexander Cameron.  Publisher's Weekly described the book like this: "The colorful, charming story of a country-veterinarian-turned-country-minister--a healer of body and soul. Told with wry Scottish wit, these stories are filled with the kind of hearty embrace of human and animal ways that are reminiscent of James Herriot. Engaging . . . rich in local color."  

The writing, in my view, was quite a bit different from the writing of James Herriot, and not quite as good.  It was a good read, however, and there were several places where I laughed uncontrollably.  This book can be found on Thriftbooks. com, where I took the screenshot below.  I did end up donating this book, as I'm pretty sure I won't read it again.

October: Now I Remember, by Thornton W. Burgess.  This autobiography was very good. 

If the name Thornton W. Burgess sounds familiar, it's because he was a prolific writer of children's nature stories and other nature books for children.  Below are pictured just two of his many, many books for kids.

He also wrote newspaper columns on the same subject matter.  It was very interesting to read about how Mr. Burgess got his start in writing, and how little he was paid.  He had many wonderful memories and reminiscences to share, including meeting Sir Wilfred Grenfell, the well-known medical missionary to Labrador and Newfoundland.

November: In My Father's House, by Corrie ten Boom.  This book was excellent.  It tells the story of the years before The Hiding Place, and clearly shows how God gave Corrie the spiritual stability to stand so strong for Him even amid the horrors of a concentration camp.  The book jacket says, in part: "In My Father's House is a testament to how God prepared one family through a father's faithfulness to his Savior and the Word of God for the most sacrificial service a family could do. Beginning in the years before Corrie was born, the book paints a beautiful picture of "family" from which today's families can glean valuable and eternally-lasting lessons."  You can find several editions of the book here: In My Father's House.

 Also in November: Something on the Wind, by Barbara Moore.  This is the fictional but very moving story of two mules and a dog and how they made their way back to their home and to their master, a traveling photographer from whom they had become separated while on the road.  I enjoyed the book a lot, but it wasn't a "must read again", so it was donated to a thrift store.

December: Shepherds Abiding, by Jan Karon.  

Photo is of the audiobook, but the book jacket has the very same artwork.  Stunning!
The book description at reads, "Millions of Americans have found Mitford to be a favorite home-away-from-home, and countless readers have long wondered what Christmas in Mitford would be like. The eighth Mitford novel provides a glimpse, offering a meditation on the best of all presents: the gift of one's heart. Since he was a boy, Father Tim has lived what he calls 'the life of the mind' and has never really learned to savor the work of his hands. When he finds a derelict nativity scene that has suffered the indignities of time and neglect, he imagines the excitement in the eyes of his wife, Cynthia, and decides to undertake the daunting task of restoring it. As Father Tim begins his journey, readers are given a seat at Mitford's holiday table and treated to a magical tale about the true Christmas spirit."

I love this book and read it every year around Christmas time. 

 That makes a total of 15 books read in 2020, although really it should be 14 because I read Shepherds Abiding twice, once in January and once in December!

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Better late than never: Beginning to review 2020


So I'm shamelessly borrowing questions from a New Year Hodgepodge that I never got around to answering back in January.  I've actually done very little in the way of reviewing 2020, so it seemed as if this could be a relatively painless way to jump into it.  Bear with me ... if you're not interested in thinking even one other thought about 2020, I completely understand.  Feel free to skip this post if you're in that camp.

1. Tell us about your favorite moment or share one of the bright spots from the year we're leaving behind. 

One of the brightest spots, which contained many favorite moments, was our trip with family to visit several state and national parks, including Zion and Grand Canyon.
Grandkids Elliott, Jerusha, Micah and Nathan at Zion National Park

Grand Canyon sunset

Granddaughter Sarah at the Grand Canyon

2. What do you wish you'd known at the start of 2020? Elaborate. 
Kind of a moot point, since none of us ever know what a day may bring forth (Proverbs 27:1).  But I think if I'd realized how swiftly our civil liberties and constitutional rights could be set aside in the name of "health", I would certainly have appreciated them much more.

3. Best book you read this year? If you did not read any books this year, what's the best thing you ate all year? We've all eaten, right? 
Wow, what a question!  I will probably have to go with In My Father's House, by Corrie ten Boom.  This book fills in the details of the years before The Hiding Place.  It certainly showed me more of the wonderful spiritual foundation Corrie was blessed with, and how she was able to stand so strong even inside a  concentration camp.   If you are interested, you can find several inexpensive editions of the book here: In My Father's House.

4. The Pantone Colors of the year for 2021 are ultimate gray and illuminating yellow (a bright shade)...are you a fan? Would we find either of these colors in your home or wardrobe? 
Just went and looked at these colors of the year, which as a rule I seldom pay much attention to.  I found the print below on Etsy at .teadesignshop.

I probably wouldn't use these colors in my home, but I actually like them both quite a bit and can see myself wearing either one of them, or both together.

Although, in regard to home decor, the kitchen cabinets at our camp, I'm thinking now, have been painted a color quite a bit like this gray.  See what you think:

5. If you were/are making a list of 21 things to do/accomplish in 2021 what is one thing that would be on it? 
Fully declutter our home and downsize our belongings. 

Graphic is by Becki at Field Lilies, who has been a great inspiration to me with decluttering and disposing. 

6. Insert your own random thought here.
Why, readers may ask, has it taken me so long to begin reviewing 2020?  I guess probably the biggest reason is that my hubby and I jumped into decluttering and cleaning in a pretty big way in the new year.  Also we took a couple of getaways (during which I was sure I'd have time to think back over the year! 😁) and spent a lot of March preparing for our trip to Nevada.

So ends this very random post.  I'm beginning to feel ready to review more of 2020, so some more posts on that are likely to be forthcoming soon.  Consider yourself warned ...

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Back from the West!


Yes, as of last night, we are back from our unpublicized two-week trip to Nevada.   We kept as quiet as possible about our plans because we wanted to surprise our grandchildren.  And we pulled it off! 

I will post more about our trip when I get some of the photos that other people took.  I got a few on my tablet which are quite poor quality, but some may have seen them on Instagram.  Mr. T got some with the camera and so I do have a few more to share later.

 One of the main reasons for our trip is seen below:

 This is our youngest granddaughter Rosemary, who turned 4 months old during our visit.  It was so much fun to make her acquaintance and she is at a sweet, interactive age, very smiley and responsive.

The other part of our plan was to surprise our granddaughter Emily for her 13th birthday.  We brought along her cousin Julia.  The girls are great friends and we managed, as I said, to pull off the surprise.  (Pictures of that to follow if I can get them from our daughter, who took them.  Obviously we couldn't get any of that event ourselves, since we were part of the surprise!)  Julia is in yellow below, and Emily is in pink.

Photos at top and bottom of post are of a remote dirt road outside of Wells, Nevada, where we visited an amazing natural hot springs.  More to follow on another day!